Gov. Mike Leavitt listened to a list of concerns about how the 2002 Winter Games could affect disadvantaged Utahns but would not agree Friday to giving them a voice on the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee.
A coalition of groups that represent the state's poor, disabled and minority communities wants Leavitt to choose a representative to the organizing committee from a list of 10 names they submitted earlier this summer.The governor told the coalition representatives that he wasn't ready to reserve a slot for any particular group. "I think it would be a mistake for us to begin developing constituency slots on the Olympic committee," he said.
The names submitted will be considered according to their ability to make the 2002 Winter Games successful, the same criteria applied to all potential members, Leavitt said.
"The Olympics cannot become the vehicle by which we solve all these problems that were here before the Olympics and . . . will be here long after," the governor said.
That wasn't what the coalition representatives wanted to hear.
"We're asking that the entire state be represented, not just one segment of the state, (the) people who know how to make money," Glenn Bailey of Crossroads Urban Center said.
The coalition representatives suggested that the governor could find what he's looking for in untraditional candidates. Juliesue Westwood said she has reared five children and earned a college degree - all on $500 a month.
"Don't tell me I'm not qualified to do this," Westwood said.
Having representation on the organizing committee is the only way to make sure Olympic revenues are used to address such needs as affordable housing and jobs that pay above the poverty level, the governor was told.
The coalition's list includes state Rep. Pete Suazo, D-Salt Lake; 3rd District Juvenile Judge Andrew Valdez; and University of Utah Academic Affairs Vice President Ronald Coleman.
There can be as many as 30 members on the organizing committee, which is responsible for staging the two-week, $800 million event. They are selected jointly by the governor and Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini.
Six of the current members are up for reappointment, and up to seven new positions remain to be filled. Most of the new positions must be filled by Olympic-caliber athletes.
So far, the mayor and the governor have made two appointments, former House Speaker Nolan Karras and Michael Danielson, the city's community and economic development director.
The six members up for reappointment are Joe Cannon, Geneva Steel chairman; Henry Marsh, athlete; Grethe Peterson, civic worker and onetime U.S. Senate candidate; Fred Rollins, district director of sales for Delta Airlines; Gordon Strachan, attorney; and Verl Topham, senior vice president and general counsel for PacifiCorp.
Leavitt said he and the mayor have not yet decided whether the six will be reappointed. He also said they have no timetable for making the rest of the appointments.